Death of a U.S. Citizen

The Bureau of Consular Affairs will locate and inform the next-of-kin of the U.S. citizen’s death and provides information on how to make arrangements for local burial or return of the remains to the United States. The disposition of remains is subject to U.S. law, local laws of the country where the individual died, U.S. and foreign customs requirements, and the foreign country facilities, which are often vastly different from those in the United States.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs assists the next-of-kin to convey instructions to the appropriate offices within the foreign country, and provides information to the family on how to transmit the necessary private funds to cover the costs overseas. The Department of State has no funds to assist in the return of remains or ashes of U.S. citizens who die abroad. Upon issuance of a local death certificate, the nearest embassy or consulate may prepare a Consular Report of the Death of an American Abroad. Copies of that report are provided to the next-of-kin or legal representative and may be used in U.S. courts to settle estate matters.

A U.S. consular officer overseas has statutory responsibility for the personal estate of a U.S. citizen who dies abroad if the deceased has no legal representative or next-of-kin in the country where the death occurred, subject to local law. In that situation the consular officer takes possession of personal effects, such as jewelry, personal documents and papers, and clothing.

The officer prepares an inventory of the personal effects and then carries out instructions from the legal representative or next-of-kin concerning the effects. For more information on the Consular Report of the Death of an American Abroad, and other services that a consular officer can help you with when a loved one passes away overseas, please enter the Disposition of Remains.

(1)  Maximum Period before Burial of Remains

  • An unembalmed body may remain unburied for up to 30 days.
  • There is no deadline for the burial of embalmed bodies if they have been kept refrigerated.

(2)  Embalming

Embalming may occur at the request of the family or legal representative and is done by a funeral agency.  There is no necessary time limit for embalming, as long as the body is kept refrigerated.

(3)  Cremation

Cremation is permitted in Mozambique as long as the family or legal representative requests cremation by means of a petition addressed to the Hindu Community and a petition to the Civil Registry (Conservatória do Registo Civil) there is a civil registry and minute available for cremation.  The Hindu Community will cremate one body per day.  The family or appointed guardian may keep the ashes. 

(4)  Caskets and Containers

There are casket packages available that meet requirements and international standards for the transportation of remains. Hermetically-sealed caskets are available.

(5)  Exportation of Remains (including cremains)

Requirements for Exportation of Remains:

  1. Death certificate issued by the physician;
  2. Death certificate issued by Conservatória do Registo Civil;
  3. Affidavit issued by the Medical Examiner confirming that the deceased had no infectious and/or contagious diseases;
  4. Affidavit issued by the funeral agency confirming embalming;
  5. Alvará issued by the Maputo Directorate of Health for the purpose of trip

All of the above documents are prepared by the funeral agency.

(6)  Costs

Embalming 3,000 meticais (approximately 120 US$)

Zinc Coffin 7,500 meticais (approximately 300 US$)

Packaging the coffin 4,500 meticais (approximately 180 US$)

Coffin from 8,000 to 20,000 meticais (approximately 320 to 800 US$)

Cremation 3,000 (approximately 120 US$)

Transport from Maputo morgue to airport 3,500 (approximately 140 US$)

Transport of remains from Maputo airport to New York approximately 1685 US$

(7)  Exhumation and Shipment

A body cannot be exhumed for any reason other than autopsy until it has been buried for five years.  A body can be exhumed at any time for an autopsy.  To request exhumation it is necessary to request authorization from the Municipality of Maputo by means of a petition address to Cemiterio de Lhanguene, Av. de Moçambique, 510, Maputo.  Tel: +258 82 76 36 750.  The cost of exhumation is 350 meticais (approximately 14 US$).

The following requirements must be met to ship a body:

  • The body must be embalmed, placed in a hermetically-sealed zinc-lined casket within a hardwood coffin and enclosed in a packing case;
  • An affidavit of embalmament must be issued by the funeral agency to confirm embalming;
  • A “narrative of death certificate” (Certificado de Narrativa) must be issued by the Conservatória dos Registos Civil;
  • A death Certificate must be issued by a physician;
  • An affidavit issued by the Maputo Directorate of Heath confirming the death was not caused by a contagious disease, and there aren’t any sanitation issues precluding shipping the body; and
  • Alvará which authorizes the body to travel to the destination country, issued by the Directorate of Heath

(8)  Autopsies

In the event of an unnatural death an autopsy is mandatory.  The family or legal representative may request an autopsy, even if a natural death, at a cost of approximately 250 US$. 

(9)  Remarks

Most provincial capitals have refrigerated morgues.  If a body is outside Maputo or a provincial capital it will be transported to the closest morgue.  The Maputo morgue can accommodate 144 bodies in refrigeration.  There are typically more than 144 bodies in the Maputo morgue and during any type of mass casualty there would not be adequate refrigeration for bodies.

There are three funeral agencies in Maputo licensed for international services:

  1. Agência Funerária Moçambicana Limitada, Av. Dr. Angelo Ferreira, 16; Tel: +258 21 30 3579; Fax: +258 21 30 3580; Cell: +258 82 300 4050 or +258 84 300 4050;
  2. Agência Funerária Diana, Av. Paulo Samuel Kankhomba, 1215; Tel: +258 21 31 3815.
  3. Agência Funerária Pfunani http://pfunani.com/pages/page-snippets/contact-us/  Av Salvador Allende N 1025RC   Emai: info@pfunani.com